SERGEANT JEAN DURAND
On April 10, 2016 I was working my usual shift from 8:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. At 11:01 p.m., I was dispatched to Devon Road, about a mile north of Vander Von Sander’s estate. I saw the parked car of Vander Von Sander with its four-way flashers engaged. As it was raining heavily, Von Sander remained in his vehicle. At the driver’s side window, he pointed ahead (northbound) towards the area where Devon Road curves left, and on the right side of the road was what I later determined to be a 2016 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, NJ Registration YR1618, registered to Logan Sawyer. The car had obviously left the road going eastbound, had hit a large tree head-on, in the center of the front grille, and came to rest there. The car was pitched downwards, as the field there dips as it approaches the tree. I came up to the car from the rear, and peered inside as best I could with the aid of a flashlight, as there was no other light source in the area, except for the faint glow of Von Sander’s truck’s headlights, and of my squad car’s headlights and spotlight.
There was no one in the vehicle. The front windshield was almost completely blown out. The front end of the car was heavily damaged, and there were no lights emanating from the car itself. I called for backup, but none arrived for nearly an hour, although EMS arrived in about ten minutes. This night was unusual, because there had been another accident just before this one, with fatalities as well, which kept other on duty Metropolitan police officers, as well as police from contiguous towns, otherwise employed. With the aid of my flashlight, I saw the body of the woman, later identified as Cathy Rojas, lying mostly downwards on a pile of rip-rap blue stone, on the edge of the Devon stream. Her face was to one side, and she started to speak. I could make out a few phrases, including, “Sid, the driver too late for me. help Sid.” Those are the phrases that I could definitely make out. This led me to believe that there had been another occupant in the vehicle. In fact, the driver’s door was open. I was unable to render any assistance to Ms. Rojas, or move her, as she appeared to have had a neck injury. From my brief physical examination, I saw that her airway was apparently clear, and while she was in obviousdistress, I did not have the equipment to render any additional aid. I told her not to try to move, and I tried to comfort her by telling her that an ambulance was on the way.Accordingly, I searched the field for the other occupant. I saw movement about a hundred yards away, by the tree line, northbound, toward Von Sander’s residence. The person, already known to me as Sid Sawyer, was behind a bush, and started to crouch behind it as the beam of light hit him. I called out “Sid,” and approached as quickly as I could in the muddy field. Instead of coming toward me, Sid retreated into the woods, in the direction of Von Sander’s residence. I had to run to catch up with him, even though he was limping. He was in no shape to escape me, however. He was holding his right arm with his left. Sid’s face had cuts and abrasions. I shined the flashlight and examined hisface, and I immediately smelled the odor of alcohol on Sid Sawyer’s breath. His eyes were bloodshot. Sawyer said asa spontaneous utterance, with no prompting from me, “If only I could go back in time. This would never have happened.” I asked if he was able to walk and he replied yes. I assisted him by putting Sid Sawyer’s left arm over my right shoulder, and we walked back to where Cathy Rojas was lying. At this time, the ambulance arrived, and EMTs immediately exited and started tending to Cathy Rojas. Sid Sawyer appeared a bit confused and was disheveled, withtwigs and hay sticking to his bloody clothing.Sid Sawyer was taken to Carey Richland Central Hospital, as the Metropolitan Hospital was full, in part from the many accidents caused by inclement weather. By dispatch, I was informed that Cathy Rojashad died from her injuries an hour after arriving at the hospital. She had never regained consciousness after EMTs attended to her, so I was the last person to talk with her before she died.
I examined the vehicle on April 11, 2016, at 1:00 a.m., in the locked, enclosed garage at police headquarters, where the car was towed initially. I was wearing gloves, and had a magnifying glass to aid in my inspection.I documented the following during the examination:In the ignition was the ignition key, which was on a key ring, with the name “Logan” imprinted on it, linked together with a key ring with an “S” monogram on it, which ring had two more keys attached.There was a half-empty liter bottle of Crown Loyal whisky, in the bright blue drawstring bag it comes in, in the center console, with the cap on. In the bag was a small card addressed to “Logan” that said, “To loyal family, loyal to the end, from Sid.”There was a cellular phone assigned to 555-555-6723 wedged in the cup holder of the center console. The panel under the steering wheel had an indentation, consistent with impact of the knees (as depicted in photographs). However, this was not the case with the passenger side panel.The vehicle is equipped with three-point restraint seatbelts, both lap belts and shoulder belts. Both lap belts and both shoulder belts were broken and frayed at the edges. Given the age of the car, perhaps their age had something to do with their failure. I further note that at no time during my examination did I discern any apparent DNA or fiber evidence to retrieve for submission to the State Laboratory.After I completed my examination and completed photographing the vehicle, it was towed to the police impound lot, located behind headquarters and which is surrounded by a seven-foot-tall fence, topped with razor wire, and only accessible through a gate monitored by police.At 2:00 a.m., on April 11, 2016, I conducted an audiotaped interview of Sid Sawyer at the Carey Richland Central Hospital. At that time, he was not yet under arrest. He had not yet been informed of Cathy Rojas death. During this interview Sid Sawyer denied being the driver of the vehicle and stated that the deceased was driving. An official court reporter will prepare a full transcript of this interview.Later on April 11, 2016, I reported for my 8:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. shift. I resumed my investigation and examined the roadway, as well as the field, on Devon Road leading to the accident scene at 8:30 p.m. using a measure meter, I measured the distance from the tree to the road as being 21 feet. I then created a sketch showing the accident scene including the position of the vehicle in relation to the other physical features. It was hard to distinguish the rubber of skid marks on the similarly colored blacktop surface. I briefly looked at the skid marks that I could perceive on the roadway, trying to determine which were from the previous night’s accident. However, because this is a dangerous curve, there were numerous skid marks, of indeterminate age, so I could not.I started to look for footprints so that I could photograph Sid Sawyer’s path from where he had exited the car, but I realized that even if the rain hadn’t washed all traces away, the ground had been trodden by EMTs and the tow-truck operators.I determined that, from Cozy Woods Apartments, where Sid Sawyer said (s)he was traveling from with the decedent, to 555 Blessing Drive, which (s)he said was their destination, would be a distance of six miles, by the most direct route, using Route 67. To take Devon Road, on the other hand, would be a distance of eight miles.
Sergeant Jean Durand
Sergeant Jean Durand
Dated: April 15, 2016